(WASHINGTON) — Immigrants across the U.S. are boycotting work, school and shopping today as part of the Day Without Immigrants, a series of protests intended to illustrate the significant economic
and social impact that immigrants have on the country.
The protests, which were organized on social media, are also a demonstration against President Donald Trump, who has been criticized by some as anti-immigrant and xenophobic for his promises to
deport unauthorized immigrants, build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and use “extreme vetting” on immigrants from several predominately Muslim countries.
Hundreds of business owners in Washington, D.C., Austin, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities are participating in the protests.
“I want to make sure that immigrants, such as myself and others, don’t live in fear,” said Andy Shallal, an Iraq-American entrepreneur best known for his D.C.-area restaurant, bookstore and
performance venue chain Busboys and Poets.
Shallal told ABC News he decided to close all six of his Busboy and Poets locations today to push for “humanistic” immigration reform.
“There are times when standing on the sidelines is not an option,” he said. “This is one of those times.”
While the economic impact of today’s boycotts remains unclear, several economic experts told ABC News that the U.S. economy and workforce would be a “disaster” without immigrants.
“If all immigrants were just to disappear from the U.S. workforce tomorrow, that would have a tremendous negative impact on the economy,” said Daniel Costa, the director of immigration law and
policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, an economic research think tank based in Washington, D.C.
“Immigrants are over-represented in a lot of occupations in both low- and high-skilled jobs,” Costa explained. “You’d feel an impact and loss in many, many different occupations and industries from
construction and landscape to finance and I.T.”
Though some U.S.-born workers could fill some of those jobs, large gaps in several sectors would remain and cause a decline in the economy, Costa said.
Immigrants earned $1.3 trillion and contributed $105 billion in state and local taxes — as well as nearly $224 billion in federal taxes — in 2014, according to the Partnership for a New American
Economy, based on an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey. The partnership is a group of 500 Republican, Democratic and independent mayors and business leaders who
support immigration reforms that create jobs for Americans, according to its site.
As consumers, immigrants had almost $927 billion in spending power in 2014, an analysis of the survey showed.
“Immigrants are a very vital part of what makes the U.S. economy work,” Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, told ABC News. “They help drive every
single sector and industry in this economy.”
Robbins added that without immigrants, there would be fewer companies and businesses and less patents and inventions.
“If you look at the great companies driving the U.S. as an innovation hub, you’ll see that a lot of companies were started by immigrants or the child of immigrants, like Apple and Google,” he said.
Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs, whose biological father was a Syrian refugee, and Google (now Alphabet) was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who was born in Moscow.
Though immigrants make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they contribute nearly 15 percent of the country’s economic output, according to a 2014 report from the Economic Policy Institute.
The report contains the institute’s latest data on immigration and the U.S. economy.
“Immigrants have an outsized role in U.S. economic output because they are disproportionately likely to be working and are concentrated among prime working ages,” the EPI report says. “Moreover,
many immigrants are business owners. In fact, the share of immigrant workers who own small businesses is slightly higher than the comparable share among U.S.-born workers.”
David Kallick, director of the Immigration Research Initiative at the Fiscal Policy Institute, said Americans should not be fearful that immigrants are “stealing” jobs from them.
“It may seem surprising, but study after study has shown that immigration actually improves wages to U.S.-born workers and provides more job opportunities for U.S.-born workers,” Kallick told ABC
News. “The fact is that immigrants often push U.S.-born workers up in the labor market, rather than out of it.”
Kallick added that studies he has done found that “where there’s economic growth, there’s immigration, and where there’s not much economic growth, there’s not much immigration.”
According to Meg Wiehe, director of programs for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “undocumented immigrants contributed more than $11.6 billion in state and local taxes each year. And
if the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants here were given a pathway to citizenship or legal residential status, those tax contributions could rise by nearly $2 billion.”
Despite their status, undocumented immigrants still contribute “so much in taxes” because they, just like U.S. citizens, have to pay property taxes for their homes or apartments they own or rent,
and they also often pay sales taxes for purchases they make, Wiehe explained.
“Researchers have also found that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants also pay income tax using something called an I-10 income tax return form,” she said.
Wiehe added that it is “critical to remember that we are talking about real people here — mothers, fathers and families who are contributing to our society through their work and the taxes they’re
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